News roundup — April 28

Gaddafi arms Libyan ‘home guard’ – minimum age 17

Muammar Gaddafi is arming Libyan 17-year-olds to build a “home front” against Nato military intervention and the possibility of rebels from the east of the country reaching largely loyalist towns and cities in the west.

As part of the drive towards an unofficial civilian army, the government is releasing thousands of AK-47 assault rifles into communities and is organising classes in the use of weapons.

At a women’s training centre in the town of Sbia, 30 miles south of Tripoli, young women crowded round a trestle table as a soldier wearing camouflage fatigues and thick red lipstick demonstrated how to field-strip and reassemble the guns.

Officials said the minimum age for weapons training was 17, although the centre was crowded with girls as young as seven who were schooled in loyalist chants and waving portraits of Gaddafi. (The Guardian)

EU scorns Bahrain over death penalties

The death sentence imposed on four Bahrainis caught up in the Shiite uprising is a “deplorable” act, the president of the European Parliament said Thursday.

Bahraini authorities announced via the state-run news agency that four men were sentenced to death and three others were given life-in-prison terms for the reported killing of two police officers during demonstrations in March.

Bahrain is facing international scrutiny for its response to the Shiite uprising. Opposition leaders accuse the ruling Sunni minority of cracking down on healthcare workers and hospital patients in order to downplay the severity of the violence. (UPI)

Bahrain ‘torture service’ official to attend royal wedding

The former head of an agency accused of torture and human rights abuses is expected to be a guest at Friday’s royal wedding, the Guardian has learned.

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Ali al-Khalifa is a former head of Bahrain’s National Security Agency (NSA) and will attend the wedding in his role as the current Bahraini ambassador to London.

British sources confirmed he had been invited and a spokesperson for the Bahraini embassy in London said he was expected to attend. (The Guardian)

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